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The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes

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  • Bruce Sacerdote

Abstract

This paper uses data on adopted children to examine the relative importance of biology and environment in determining educational and labor market outcomes. I employ three long-term panel data sets which contain information on adopted children, their adoptive parents, and their biological parents. In at least two of the three data sets, the mechanism for assigning children to adoptive parents is fairly random and does not match children to adoptive parents based on health, race, or ability. I find that adoptive parents' education and income have a modest impact on child test scores but a large impact on college attendance, marital status, and earnings. In contrast with existing work on IQ scores, I do not find that the influence of adoptive parents declines with child age.
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Suggested Citation

  • Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:92:y:2002:i:2:p:344-348
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/000282802320191589
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Erik Plug & Wim Vijverberg, 2003. "Schooling, Family Background, and Adoption: Is It Nature or Is It Nurture?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(3), pages 611-641, June.
    2. Griliches, Zvi & Mason, William M, 1972. "Education, Income, and Ability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages 74-103, Part II, .
    3. Das, Mitali & Sjogren, Tanja, 2002. "The inter-generational link in income mobility: evidence from adoptions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 55-60, March.
    4. Ashenfelter, Orley & Krueger, Alan B, 1994. "Estimates of the Economic Returns to Schooling from a New Sample of Twins," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1157-1173, December.
    5. Behrman, Jere R & Taubman, Paul, 1989. "Is Schooling "Mostly in the Genes"? Nature-N urture Decomposition Using Data on Relatives," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1425-1446, December.
    6. Bruce Sacerdote, 2002. "The Nature and Nurture of Economic Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 344-348, May.
    7. Orley Ashenfelter & Cecilia Rouse, 1998. "Income, Schooling, and Ability: Evidence from a New Sample of Identical Twins," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 253-284.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J0 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General
    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education

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